President AMLO vs. fuel thieves in Mexico
On Sunday morning, I spoke by social media with a Mexican friend who runs a small business in central Mexico. I was surprised that we spent much of our chat talking about people who steal gasoline. It is apparently topic #1 south of the border, especially if you drive or use fuel in your business.
Down in Mexico, Mexicans have found a unique way of making a dishonest living. They sabotage fuel lines and steal the gasoline. Some use it for their own needs, and others just distribute it on the black market.
It has blown out of control over the last year.
It's quite a scandal and costing PEMEX, the state oil monopoly, over $3 billion a year, according to news reports.
So far, President López-Obrador is not suffering from the scandal. I guess he is too new to get blamed for anything, or so said my friend. At the same time, it could change if people believe that the operation is an inside job.
El Presidente López-Obrador (source).
President López-Obrador's problem is that the "insiders" are now his appointments. Add to this that many Mexicans see PEMEX as corrupt and arrogant.
It won't take long before the public thinks his friends are the ones running the theft operations.
Fair or unfair, but Mexicans are cynical about their politicians.
To his credit, President López-Obrador was proactive and ordered the shutdown of six major pipelines, or the ones most vulnerable to illegal "taps," where criminals siphoned off fuel, and the billions of dollars that go with them.
After hearing my friend complain about waiting in line to buy gas, I asked him for a solution. He said, "Privatize the [expletive deleted] PEMEX" and make their budgets and operations more transparent.
Well, I don't think PEMEX will be privatized anytime soon, but President López-Obrador is running out of time to deal with this problem. Mexicans don't give their politicians the benefit of the doubt.